Another December means another year behind the counter with no extra breaks or surprise mistletoe to look forward to. My non-service industry friends think my borderline-Scrooge outlook on the holiday season is just downright depressing. It's not that I hate Christmas...it's just that I do not in any way relate to the merry, smug happiness that I see replayed every year in festive movies, extra cheery advertisements, and the colourful invitations of parties I cannot attend. While you are getting ready to celebrate, I just got a few more shifts that need to be covered. Holiday shopping and office gift exchanges means more coffee to make...and guess who is making it? Me.
Here is a list of ALL the types of things only Christmas brings to a café (I would totally call in sick...if I got Sick Days!):
- The banshee-screaming sound of steamed egg nog! I still do not understand how and why anyone would want to steam egg nog! From the horrific screech it makes as soon as it touches the steam wand, it is clear to me that it should not be made into a hot drink of any form. And yes, if you ask for Extra-Extra hot egg nog, there will be bits of scrambled egg floating in your coffee, just saying. So please, don't burden your barista for this request or ask her to her remake it again without tipping! I love egg nog, I really do, but might I suggest: iced, and BYOBailey's or Kahlua!
- 'Tis the season for everything to go missing! When you are buying presents, ours are getting stolen! Yes, Christmas marks that time when our sales are mysteriously going down and merchandise is disappearing off the shelves, and I am not going to blame the pesky elves! My favourite memory is noticing a giant, empty space on the once-full shelf and wondering what had been there. There were five of us gals working during a very busy shift. Suddenly I realized that someone had just walked out with our massive $2000 espresso machine, and with a lineup running our the door....well, we didn't even notice and no, they definitely did not pay for it! You're welcome!
- A Barista's Worst Nightmare: The Santa Clause Parade! Maybe you mark this day on your calendar with a big happy face, but I mark this day on my calendar with DOOM written in red ink. If there's one thing worse than Non-Fat-No-Foam Yoga-Ladies, it's Non-Fat-No-Foam Yoga-Ladies and their children who need and will come in droves to order thousands of Kids Hot Chocolate before they see Santa in crowds of children who will also beg their parents for a Kids Hot Chocolate. On the morning of Parade Day, I have already been up all night prepping cambros full of hot chocolate, loading canisters of whipped cream, unpacking the polar bear cookies...only to open the doors to the masses and realize the kids all want No-Whipped White Hot Chocolates!?!?!?! NOOOOOOO!!! WHYYYYYY???? I am not ready for this!!!
- The Surprises that are Left in the Bathroom... Oh dear lord. Please give me strength when going in to clean out the bathroom on each and every holiday shift I work. Because café bathrooms are always open and free, they seem to be a holiday sanctuary for every one and their messes in the city. Holiday staples: Pee on the floor, poop on the walls, used condoms, piles and piles of used wrapping paper (who wants to open presents in a bathroom???), sleeping homeless people (at least they found a warm place to hide, until they wake up and yell at me), extra dirty diapers, tampons galore, cocaine residue (pre-party in the bathroom, really?!?!), mystery goop, broken and mashed up cookies (why did you buy it????), and free samples- I was just giving out moments before- splattered everywhere , etc, etc, etc. Why, WHY are people so dirty and disgusting and seem to forget how to use a clearly marked garbage can during the Holidays??? I have added "Biohazard" to my phone's Favourite List in time for Christmas. Actually, I think I have PTSD from cleaning bathrooms...
- Scrooge Tippers! I wish I worked in a classy dining room or behind a real bar because holiday shoppers are the skimpiest tippers! Not only do they want more, but they take out their giving-and-shopping fatigue on us. Bah humbug!
- No days off: Even if we had the money to fly south for the holidays and escape the harsher café conditions...well, we can't, thanks to the Winter Vacation Blackout! January 2nd is the day I look forward to most: SNOOZE BUTTON!
- Sugar Overload: Because I live on scraps of broken cookies and expired sandwiches, the extra-sugary, trans-fatty and icing-loaded pastry options that are pumped into the store from November-January are terrible for our already-poor health. I wish someone would leave me out a carrot!
- Don't ask me for the calorie content!!! The number one question I am asked by customers during the holidays is "How many calories are in that?" and "Can I get Extra-Whipped Egg Nog Signature Caramel Hot Chocolate with Non-fat milk?" Basically if it is on the Red Menu board, then it contains enough calories for you to survive only on that one drink for several days...and making it non-fat will not make a goddam difference. And no, we do not have gluten-free or dairy-free Christmas options. Thanks a latte!
Yes, the holidays are bitter-sweet for baristas. We do love our jobs and we do love our customers, (the good ones anyway) and will go out of our way to do just about anything for you once you walk through our doors. Just remember that holidays aren't created equally for everyone so tip as big as you can, and go easy on your coffee people this Christmas! We will thank you for it!
Now, hurry up January!!!